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MY TRAVELS

Italy | Spain | Germany | France

Italy

Florence

            OO Firenze, my home, where do I begin. My favorite part of my pensione was waking up to an italian man singing at the top of his lungs. Since I had no air, I slept with my window open every night. In America it is almost impossible for me to willingly get up at 7 am, but here, I want to soak up every moment that I can. The place in Florence to be is the Duomo. The funny thing is that the whole time in Florence, I never stopped to take a picture of its beauty. The evenings are always an adventure, the hang out that we always went to is called the Public House, which is just beyond the Piazza de Republica. Also I would never pass up Space Electronica, its a great dance club, but make sure you do not lose the card that they give you in the beginning…or else you have to pay 100 euro!! If you want to bypass the everyday tourists, but still see something amazing, I recommend going see the Chapel de Medici. It is located just around the corner from San Lorenzo. This is where the Medici’s are buried and the whole chapel is made out of different colors of marble, it is amazing. If you want a good old Irish time in the heart of Italy, go to the Michael Collins pub on Sundays and step up to sing some karaoke! Zaza’s is a must restaurant to go get an authentic Florentine steak!

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Southern Tuscany

            If you want a relaxing weekend on the beach, I recommended going to Southern Tuscany. When I thought of Tuscany, I pictured fields of Sunflowers and grapes but if you head south, you will encounter the most beautiful secluded beaches. We went stayed on a campground in Marina di Grosetto, which was so much fun and cheap. After a long day at the beach, it was nice to just sit on the deck and drink some good old Italian wine. I also had the chance to go to the Gulf of Baratti. Here, I saw the wonderful Etruscan Tombs, which were built around 7 bc. It was crazy to see something so old!

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Cinque Terre

            Cinque Terre was by far one of my favorite places to visit. It is just a couple of hours on train away from Florence. Cinque Terre is 5 villages of the coast of the Mediterranean. I stayed in Monterosso, which is the biggest village. The morning that I arrived, I immediately was ready for a hike, but I did not know the extent of this hike. If you a willing to hike 12 k throughout the 5 villages, I would highly encourage it. By the 3rd village, I was dying; it was a very strenuous hike. The best part about the hike was the end; this was because there is a great cliff that people frequently jump off of. I was very hesitant to do this but I said to myself, when could I ever do this again?! So I did it, and it was such a rush! After the hike we had a relaxind evening on the beach watching the waves roll in.

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Amalfi Coast

            The Amafi coast is a beautiful place on the southern side of Italy. I stayed in Sorrento, which is located in the region of Campania. It is just a ferry ride to Amalfi and to Capri. Amalfi was a nice relaxing place to be. The beach is made of rocks, which made things interesting. You can hike through the lemon groves or even to see the Emerald Grotto, which I chose to do. We took a boat to see it and it was really amazing to see the beautiful green water; it was a little different than the Blue Grotto, which I saw in Capri. In order to see the Blue Grotto, we got in a boat and had to lie on each other, when the tide came in we got sucked into the grotto, it was intense. A little hint, if you want to swim illegally in one of the World’s Natural Wonders, tip your guide a little bit more and he will let you!! I also decided instead of taking a taxi to the highest point of Capri, Monte Solaro, I would rough it and hike the 2000 ft to the top. At one point I was basically rock climbing, so make sure you have good traction on your shoes. It was an adrenaline rush and reaching the top was a great feeling of accomplishment. After the hike I wanted to try the drink that Capri was known for, Limoncello. It was good, but a little too strong for my liking. 

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Venice

            Ahh Venice, so beautiful. I didn’t actually stay in Venice; it was a little outside in a campground. It was interesting trying to find our way to Venice. It is very easy to get lost so make sure that you have a map. The museums that Venice has are really great, especially the Peggy Guggenheim Museum.  It is an amazing collection of famous works I was in heaven. If you do not like pigeons, do go to la Piazza San Marco. Pigeons are everywhere and you can even feed them, that is a little to far for me! Something that I found interesting was that the church had little 5’in or so metal wires sticking out of the entire façade, this is to keep the pigeons off of it. Coming to Venice, you must pick up some type of Venetian glass.

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Spain

Barcelona

            After taking a train to Pisa, flying to Girona and taking a bus to Barcelona, I finally arrived, trains, planes and automobiles! Automatically the excitement of the city was all around me. I stayed on Las Ramblas, which is the place to be. It is a street that runs a couple of miles with shops, food, and entertainers on the street. Nightlife is what Barcelona is known for, and I will vogue for that.  The clubs do not open until 11, and don’t close until 6, so you can dance until the sun comes up, which I did! If you do not want to spend 20 euros to get in a club, you can just walk the street of Las Ramblas and have so much fun. I loved going to the club, just make sure you are dressed up because some of the guys got turned down because of flip flops. During the day, I took a tour of the Gothic District, where you can see Gaudi’s famous buildings and also where Picasso hung out.  The most amazing church that I saw throughout Europe was defiantly la Sagrada Familia. It has been under construction for the past 120 years and still isn’t done. Being in Barcelona, just look out for your safety and have fun!

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Germany

Munich

            Soon upon arriving in Germany, I realized Germans like to get around on bikes, so I did as the Germans do. I loved taking a tour with Mike’s Bike Tours because the guides were hilarious. I was hesitant to be riding a bike around on cobblestones but I only fell once. The tour takes you through the sites of Munich and goes through the English Gardens, Europe’s largest city park. This park is interesting because clothing is optional - I went with the clothing option. Halfway through we stopped at the Chinese tower, a beer garden. A word of advice, having more than one stein might result in the crashing of your bike. The place to be during the day is Marianplatz, St. Mary’s Plaza. This is Old Munich and there you will find a bunch of shopping and also a open market.  Nightlife in Munich consists of beer, brats, and brass bands. Going to the famous Hofbräuhaus is a must. The atmosphere inside is almost indescribable. Make sure to sample all the different German beers and authentic brats. Prost!

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Dachau

            This is a place I think that everyone needs to experience at least once in his or her lives. I was overcome with emotion walking through this death camp. I would recommend getting an automated tour guide.  It educated me on everything that I was seeing and made a even stronger impact.

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France

French Riviera

            Saying that I went to the French Riviera makes me feel like a movie star because it is where they all go! Nice was beautiful and the hostel that I stayed at was really nice for the price. The beach is pebbles so unless you want a massage while lying down, you should get a chair! The food, especially the croissants, was so good, they wrap just about everything in a croissant.  Instead of spending an arm and a leg on a hotel in Monaco, I just took an hour train ride into town. When you get out of the train station, you see how the town just screams wealth, from the gigantic yachts to the beautiful casino of Monte Carlo. Make sure you save up your money for a meal, coke was 7 euro, but I was orange coke, I just had to try it. At noon everyday, the changing of the guard takes place at the prince’s palace; this is a must to see. I also went to Marseille, which is known for its soap. When you walk along, there is soap in every little store! I did not spend much time here but the food again was great and also I went to a little jazz club down by the marina.

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